Recent Work By TNB Editors

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Anne Helen Petersen. Her new book, Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, is available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is the official October pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

A former senior culture writer for BuzzFeed, Petersen now writes her newsletter, Culture Study, as a full-time venture on Substack. She received her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where she focused on the history of celebrity gossip. Her previous books, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud and Scandals of Classic Hollywood, were featured in NPR, Elle, and the Atlantic. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Laura Bogart. Her debut novel, Don’t You Know I Love You, is available from Dzanc Books.

Bogart is also a non-fiction writer who focuses on personal essays, pop culture, film and TV, feminism, body image and sizeism, and politics (among other topics). She is a featured contributor to The Week and DAME magazine; her work has also appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, SPIN,The AV Club, Vulture, and Indiewire (among other publications). She lives in Baltimore.

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Available from Ig Publishing

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“What a smart, elegant, emotionally honest way to tell the story of a life – by giving us the stories that spiral from one tragic death. Lord the One You Love is Sick is entirely unafraid in its depiction of our most difficult and profound hurdles. A gripping and gorgeous exploration not only of small town connections, but the kind of loss whose wake refuses to subside.”―Nina de Gramont, author, The Last September

A Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2020 Book Preview selection by The Millions

In the contemporary vein of writers like Emily Ruskovich and Stephen Markley, Lord the One You Love is Sick is an explosive debut collection that reveals the tragedies and unspeakable secrets hidden behind a veneer of normalcy in a small North Carolina town.

Gentry’s death from a heroin overdose sends shock waves through his hometown, affecting everyone in different ways. It triggers a mental breakdown in his best friend, Dale, a police officer, as his wife grapples with the burden of her vows in the face of her husband’s disturbing behavior. Meanwhile, Gentry’s bitter mother discovers an unexpected friendship as she struggles to place blame surrounding the death of her oldest son, while her younger son lives in agoraphobic solitude, cut off from the rest of the world. On the outskirts of town, an eight-year old girl and her older sister cope with horrific abuse from their well-respected father. All the while, the patriarchs of the community sit together gossiping at the local diner, certain that the Lord will heal everyone’s sins.

A novel in stories, Lord the One You Love is Sick is a gorgeously written and heartrending work of fiction from an important new voice in the literature of the American South.

 

Hello. My name is Joseph Grantham. I edit this website. I’m also an artist (see above). I asked some writers and friends to recommend some short stories to you, the readers of this website. All I asked was that they do this in 3-5 sentences. Other than that, there were no guidelines. I’ll start.

 

“Victor Blue” by Ann Beattie

 

This story is from Beattie’s first collection, Distortions, and it is written in the form of journal entries, composed by an elderly man who spends his days taking care of his ill wife (“Mrs. Edway,” as he refers to her). He cooks for her, takes care of her violets (one of them is named “Victor Blue”), reads novels to her, and whenever he and his wife have to make an important, or not so important, decision, they vote on it, each writing down their answer on a piece of paper and then holding it up for the other to see. Do they want a kitten or a puppy, do they want to hang up the embroidered Eiffel Tower picture which was a gift from Mrs. Edway’s cousin, should Mrs. Edway kill herself or continue living in pain? Beattie wrote this story when she was in her mid-twenties and you’d never know it.

 

Okay. Now, on to the main event.

 

 

“Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace

 

“Good Old Neon” is about a man who killed himself in 1991, told from the perspective of his post-death existence outside of time, written by a man who killed himself in 2008, published in 2004. It feels impossible to distill a ~40 page story that works on so many levels of thought and heart into 3-5 sentences, which is basically the premise of the story itself: that linear time and language are inherently limiting modes of describing the dimensionless flashes of perception that color each person’s interiority with significance, but until we die, we can only use one word after another to relate ourselves. Since his first successful lie at age 4, or arguably birth, the protagonist placed himself at the center of a “fraudulence paradox,” which meant that the more he tried to be something he wasn’t, the less he felt like the ideal image he performed, and “…the more of a fraud [he] felt like, the harder [he] tried to convey an impressive or likable image of [him]self so that other people wouldn’t find out what a hollow, fraudulent person [he] really [was].” What hits me so hard about “Good Old Neon” is the vagueness about its audience: the post-death protagonist addresses himself the moment before his death in a car, but he also makes lovingly dry meta-asides to another reader (from who, at least in the confines of a reader-author relationship, David Foster Wallace didn’t view himself as so apart), and I can’t help but feel witness to some similar shade of dialogue Wallace could’ve worked out with himself before his own death. The message of the story, to me, is not to succumb to our self-imposed limits; the message is in the beauty of trying, at least for a moment, to describe what it was like to be human. 

 

– recommended by Megan Boyle, author of Liveblog

 

 

“A Man Came to Visit Us” by Brandon Hobson

 

Your question is so difficult to answer.  I read and reread and am taken up by so many stories all of the time — both ancient and modern.  But the story foremost in my mind is always the most recent one I have accepted for NOON.  And at this minute, it is the unearthly stunner by Brandon Hobson — that is jammed with mystery and passion –“A Man Came to Visit Us” (due out March 2021).  

 

– recommended by Diane Williams, founder of NOON and author of The Collected Stories of Diane Williams

 

 

“Recitatif” by Toni Morrison

 

I assign this every semester to my English 102 students, out of The Norton Introduction to Literature. Despite the fact that I read this twice a year, it gets me every time. This story is a good example of why fiction is a superior art form; it says more about big broad important topics, like race and class and friendship and memory, than any piece of nonfiction ever could. This statement will probably offend a nonfiction purist if they happen to read this, whoopsie.

 

– recommended by Juliet Escoria, author of Juliet the Maniac

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Dean Koontz. His new novel, Elsewhere, is available from Thomas & Mercer.

 

Koontz is the author of fourteen number one New York Times bestsellers, including One Door Away from Heaven, From the Corner of His Eye, Midnight, Cold Fire, The Bad Place, Hideaway, Dragon Tears, Intensity, Sole Survivor, The Husband, Odd Hours, Relentless, What the Night Knows, and 77 Shadow Street. He’s been hailed by Rolling Stone as “America’s most popular suspense novelist,” and his books have been published in thirty-eight languages and have sold over five hundred million copies worldwide.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, he now lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens Trixie and Anna.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Lynn Steger Strong. Her new novel, Want, is available from Henry Holt.

Strong was born and raised in South Florida. Her first novel, Hold Still, was released by Liveright/WW Norton in 2016. Her nonfiction has been published by GuernicaLos Angeles Review of Books, Elle.com, Catapult, Lit Hub, and others. She teaches both fiction and non-fiction writing at Columbia University, Fairfield University, and the Pratt Institute.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Steven Dunn. His latest novel, water & power, is available from Tarpaulin Sky.

 

Dunn’s other novel, Potted Meat, is also available from Tarpaulin Sky.

He was born and raised in West Virginia, and after 10 years in the Navy, he earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

Some of his work can be found in Columbia JournalGranta Magazine, and Best Small Fictions 2018.

He lives in Denver.

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Available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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“Articulate and persuasive…Petersen delivers a cogent explanation of the millennial landscape, incorporating in-depth research, interviews, and her own experiences to define the problems that millennials face as they attempt to live up to high, occasionally near-impossible expectations.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

A BEST BOOK OF THE FALL AS SEEN IN: Apartment Therapy • Book Riot • Business Insider • BuzzFeed • Daily NebraskanEntertainment WeeklyEsquireFortuneHarper’s Bazaar • HelloGiggles • LinkedIn • O MagazineTime Magazine

“[A] razor sharp book of cultural criticism…With blistering prose and all-too vivid reporting, Petersen lays bare the burnout and despair of millennials, while also charting a path to a world where members of her generation can feel as if the boot has been removed from their necks.” —Esquire

“An analytically precise, deeply empathic book about the psychic toll modern capitalism has taken on those shaped by it. Can’t Even is essential to understanding our age, and ourselves.”—Ezra Klein, Vox co-founder and New York Times bestselling author of Why We’re Polarized

An incendiary examination of burnout in millennials—the cultural shifts that got us here, the pressures that sustain it, and the need for drastic change

Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Amy Shearn. Her new novel, Unseen City, is available from Red Hen Press. It is the official September pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

Shearn is the author of the novels The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is the Ocean From Here. She has an MFA from the University of Minnesota, and currently lives in Brooklyn.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Kathleen Rooney. Her new novel, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, is available from Penguin Books.

 

 

This is Kathleen’s second time on the program. She first appeared in Episode 274 on May 4, 2014.

She is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a nonprofit publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches in the English Department at DePaul University, and her most recent books include the national best-seller, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk  (St. Martin’s Press 2017 / Picador 2018) and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte (Spork Press, 2018).

A winner of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, she is the author of nine books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including the novel O, Democracy! (Fifth Star Press, 2014); the novel in poems Robinson Alone (Gold Wake Press, 2012), based on the life and work of Weldon Kees; the essay collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs (Counterpoint, 2010); and the art modeling memoir Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object (University of Arkansas Press, 2009). Her first book is Reading with Oprah: The Book Club That Changed America (University of Arkansas Press, 2005), and her first poetry collection, Oneiromance (an epithalamion) won the 2007 Gatewood Prize from the feminist publisher Switchback Books.

With Elisa Gabbert, she is the co-author of the poetry collection That Tiny Insane Voluptuousness (Otoliths, 2008) and the chapbook The Kind of Beauty That Has Nowhere to Go (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). And with fellow DePaul professor Eric Plattner, she is the co-editor of Rene Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Her reviews and criticism have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Poetry Foundation website, The New York Times Book Review, BITCHAllureThe Chicago Review of Books, The Chicago TribuneThe Paris Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Nation and elsewhere.

She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay.

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Brad Listi, the founder of this website, is now keeping a daily blog where he documents his existence.  It’s called notes from the fallBut I like to call it Bradpocalypse. He’s going to do this until Inauguration Day. For some reason I think it’s compelling to read about a dad in Los Angeles. I think my favorite part so far is that his son wants a John Williams t-shirt. John Williams, the composer. The Star Wars composer guy. That makes me laugh.

 

If you’d like to read follow along and you didn’t understand the hyperlink above, then I’ll make it very obvious for you right here. Click this link if you’d like to follow along: https://bradpocalypse.blogspot.com/?m=1.

 

And by the way, this is Joseph Grantham writing this, not Brad Listi. This isn’t Brad doing a third person self promotion thing. This is Joseph. I hope you’re all well, except those of you who annoy me. As for the people who annoy me, I hope you’re doing fine, just not well.

 

Goodbye.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Matthew Salesses. His new novel, Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, is available from Little A Publishing.

This is Matthew’s second time on the program. He first appeared in Episode 145 on February 3, 2013.

He is the bestselling author of The Hundred-Year Flood, an Amazon Best Book of September and Kindle First pick, an Adoptive Families Best Book of 2015, and a Best Book of the season at BuzzfeedRefinery29, and Gawker, among others. Forthcoming in 2021 are a craft book, Craft in the Real World, and a collection of essays, Own Story. His previous books include I’m Not Saying, I’m Just SayingDifferent Racisms: On Stereotypes, the Individual, and Asian American Masculinity; and The Last Repatriate.

He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Coe College, where he teaches fiction writing and Asian American literature.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with David Goodwillie. His new novel, Kings County, is available from Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster.

Goodwillie’s other books include the novel American Subversive, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and the memoir Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.

Goodwillie has written for the New York Times, New York magazine, Newsweek, and Popular Science, among other publications.

He has also been drafted to play professional baseball, worked as a private investigator, and was an expert at Sotheby’s auction house. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lives in Brooklyn.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Emerson Whitney. He is the author of a memoir called Heaven, available from McSweeney’s.

 

Whitney is also the author of Ghost Box. He teaches in the BFA creative writing program at Goddard College and is a postdoctoral fellow in gender studies at the University of Southern California.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Nick Flynn. His new memoir, This is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire, is available from W.W. Norton & Co. It is the official August pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

 

Flynn is the author of three previous memoirs, including the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award–winning Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and four volumes of poetry. A professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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